Gloria Taylor, the 64 year-old Westbank woman with ALS who fought courageously to change Canada’s law on assisted dying has died.
Taylor was the lead plaintiff in the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s death with dignity lawsuit. Her dream of legal change for herself and all Canadians was realized in June when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the right to die with dignity is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and granted Gloria a personal exemption allowing her the right to seek a physician-assisted death. The case was a major victory for choice and individual rights at the end of life.
Taylor's death Thursday was sudden and unexpected; the cause of death was a severe infection resulting from a perforated colon. Due to the acute nature and brief course of her illness from the infection, she did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life. In the end, her death was quick and peaceful and she was spared from the prolonged death from ALS that she dreaded and which inspired her participation in the lawsuit.
Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the BCCLA, said “Gloria was a heroic woman. Even as her own body failed her, she fought for all Canadians to have choice and dignity at the end of life. Gloria was terrified that she would become trapped in her body as her ALS progressed and she was incensed that other Canadians with serious illnesses were facing the same cruel predicament. She spent the last days of her life tirelessly advocating to change the law. The BCCLA will continue with the lawsuit, fighting to protect Gloria’s victory against government appeals. Gloria lit the torch, now we will carry it. This case is her legacy.”
Anne Fomenoff, Gloria’s mother states: “Gloria will be dearly missed by her devoted family and friends, but we are grateful that Gloria was given the solace of knowing that she had a choice about how and when she would die. Thanks to the ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court, Gloria was able to live her final days free from the fear that she would be sentenced to suffer cruelly in a failing body. The exemption she was granted allowed her to face her illness and death with dignity and grace. In the end, Gloria was spared a long and painful death from ALS -- she was able to die peacefully surrounded by her friends and family. Until the moment she died, Gloria firmly believed that all Canadians should have choice in dying, and we, her family, completely supported her in that belief. I am so proud of my feisty, determined daughter – she struggled to make the world better for Canadians. I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say we are so proud of her legacy. We are blessed to have known and loved this special woman.”